LUBBOCK, Texas The Cal women knew a battle-tested South Florida squad was going to be tough.
The Bears were spot on.
Cal blew a 10-point lead with a minute to play in regulation and needed overtime to defeat the Bulls 82-78 Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"We made some really dumb plays and let them stick around the game," the Bears' Layshia Clarendon said. "It was one of those games where the clock couldn't tick any slower at the end."
Cal (30-3), seeded second in the Spokane Regional, reached 30 victories in a season for the first time in the program's history. The Bears also advanced to the regional semifinals for only the second time. They meet the winner of today's Penn State-LSU game Saturday.
But they almost didn't make it against South Florida, which was coming off its first NCAA Tournament victory ever, 71-70 over host Texas Tech.
Cal fouled the 10th-seeded Bulls (22-11) on two three-point attempts in the final 20 seconds of regulation. The Bears also missed 8 of 11 free throws in the final 1:27.
The biggest blunder was fouling Inga Orekhova as she shot from three-point range with seven-tenths of a second to play and Cal ahead 70-67. Orekhova, an 80 percent free-throw shooter, sank all three to force overtime.
"This was not exactly how I dreamed it, but in a lot of ways it's so indicative of Cal basketball," Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "We're not perfect, we certainly make mistakes, but there's no other group I'd want to look in the eye and say, 'You're my group.'
"I thought we saw heart, resilience, toughness, balance and everything that we are."
Cal, which finished 21 of 39 from the foul line, suddenly regained its free-throw shooting confidence in the extra period, hitting 7 of 8.
"I just said, 'Not one person looks behind us,' " Gottlieb said of what she told her team before overtime. "We don't need to talk about the time that's already passed. We're moving forward.
"(Overtime) wasn't easy, but there was no carry-over whatsoever."
Clarendon scored 27 points to lead the Bears, and Gennifer Brandon had 13 points and 12 rebounds as Cal got its inside game going in the second half.
Brittany Boyd, who was an assist shy of a triple double in Cal's 90-76 first-round win over Fresno State, packed the stat sheet again. She had 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists before fouling out in overtime.